Monday, February 27, 2006

Mountain Mayhem

In the midst of all our adoption excitement, I've been shipped off for a week to beautiful Louisville, Colorado. Louisville is a suburb of Denver, approximately midway between Denver and Boulder. It was 65 degrees here today, so I can't complain about the weather, but it still stinks to be away from home.

While away on business, I try to maintain some semblence of a normal dietary and exercising life. This isn't always an easy thing to accomplish. Let me give you some details of my day to explain the dilema. This morning, I stumbled jetlagged into the lobby of the hotel to partake in the bane of any dieter's existence -- the buffet breakfast. Now I'm a complete sucker for those Golden Malted waffles that you pour into the iron then flip over then wander away to get orange juice then wander over to look at the egg offerings then wander over to look at the cereal and fruit then simultaneously hear the beeping of the waffle iron (which has now been beeping for several minutes) in harmony with the beeping of the smoke alarm signaling that your Golden Malted is now Golden Charred. In any case, I had a waffle for breakfast, using a carefully measured amount of syrup to try and not totally kill my diet. Then off to work. (Take note that my traveling companions each ate a half dozen eggs plus a whole hog's worth of bacon...mmmm...bacon....)

At noon, my two teammates wanted to get Mexican food, so we went to a local establishment called "The Three Margaritas." My cohorts each ordered the "Mucho Burrito" which looked like it probably had "Mucho Million Calories." I, again in an effort to not gain 50 pounds on one trip, ordered a relatively healthy taco salad. I'm not shooting for the figure of an Olympic gymnast here, just to not gain weight.

For dinner, we trapsed up to Boulder for Italian at Pasta Jay's. I've eaten at Jay's three or four times now, and every time it has been wonderful. Tonight I had a linguini and shrimp in a cream sauce. Oh, and I had a pint of Fat Tire Ale. Now I'm fully aware that this meal is not going to garner me a call from Jenny Craig looking for a spokesman, but I was tired, stuck with two engineers for a week, in ski country with no chance of skiing. So I raise my glass of Fat Tire.

We got back to the hotel around 7:30pm, and I decided that to makeup for the sins of dinner I needed to checkout the workout room. I changed into running attire and headed downstairs.

Now the workout facility in this hotel features two treadmills which I'm relatively sure were developed in Edison's lab. The treadmill I chose was basically a piece of rubber stretched between two coffee cans with a gerbil running for a motor. It was an ugly machine. To make matters worse, I learned a quick lesson in altitude adjustment. My home in Brownsburg, Indiana sits right about 800 ft in elevation. Louisville -- 5560 ft. Couple this with the fact that I normally workout on a low impact Precor machine versus this hellish gerbil wheel featured at this hotel, and you have a good image forming of how poorly this workout went. I sweat. I huffed. I gargled linguini and shrimp. After about 15 minutes, I pulled my shirt up to wipe off my forhead, and I let out a stiffled squeak. My skin had turned completely pink. Not just splotchy here and there, my gut looked like a hairy bottle of Pepto Bismol. Not pretty. As I fell off the treadmill after 30 minutes, I turned to swear at it, but couldn't catch enough breath to get out anything more than "stupiiiii peee of shhh..."

I made it a full 30 minutes, but I'm not so sure that I'll be able to do this every night while I'm out here. Perhaps tomorrow night I'll try running outside versus running on the treadmill on loan from Medieval Times.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dossier to China--HUGE STEP

For those of you who don't already know (and we keep telling everyone we see), our offical paperwork is on its way to China (more specifically, the China Center for Adoption Affairs).

From here, it's all a waiting game, and I thought I would try to outline the process. Part of my attempt here is to explain why we can't just go pick up our baby next month, which seems to be the standard plea of our dear daughter's grandparents.

Upon arrival, our dossier will be grouped by color and agency, logged in with an offical date (the date upon which our referral is based), and set on a shelf to sit and sit and sit. Sometimes, these dossiers sit for a year; other times, the wait is only a few months.

Here is a picture taken (no idea to whom to give credit) inside the waiting room:

After their wait, they are sent to the "REVIEW ROOM," where they are checked for authenticity. Once clear of the review, dossiers travel to the "MATCH ROOM," a magical place that pairs parents with kids. The twenty or so workers in the Match Room pour over the dossiers trying to pair the perfect child with the perfect parents. The matchers take into account the parents' interests and hobbies and compare it to what information they have from the orphanages. Hundreds and hundreds of dossiers are matched each month. Based on our list of hobbies and interests, we expect to be matched with a 1960's singing, crocheting, hiking outdoors kind of baby. I'm sure the orphanages know that kind of stuff.

After the dossier has been matched, our adoption agency will receive the finalized referral, and in a short time, we'll have a special package, delivered by the FedEx man, with her pictures and medical information.

After we accept our referral, we'll start trying to secure a meeting with the American Embassy in China, and in a short 6 to 8 weeks, we'll be in line for 24 hours worth of travel to pick her up.

Once in China, we'll have a few days of sightseeing (probably in Beijing) before we fly to our baby girl's province to pick her up. We'll stay a few days in her province, and then we'll head to the American Embassy in Guangzhou, where we will spend a few days securing her visa and shopping. Then, with a vocal toddler in tow, we'll get on another plane and travel half way around the globe back to Indianapolis, Indiana.

Whew! I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Booty Call

Something happened at work yesterday (yes, my 31st birthday) that confirmed for me that I'm old--real old.

I was walking down a virtually empty hallway on the way to my office. In front of me, obviously tardy to class, walked two female students, neither of whom I have had in class. In their hands, they carried every type of Valentine's Day commodity known to man: candy, roses, stuffed bears.

Walking up behind these girls, I said it, and as it escaped my mouth, I knew it. I am old. No more denying it.

I said, “Wow, you girls sure have a lot of booty.”

That’s right… booty, as in “plunder taken.” But, let’s be honest, there’s another way to think about that word… a handcuffs in prison, sexual harassment lawsuit kind of way to think about that word.

Main Entry: booty
Variant(s): also boo•tie /'bü-tE/
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural booties
Etymology: dialect (African-American) booty, boody buttocks

So, happy birthday baby girl. Welcome to the official world of over the hill. However, I’m not going down without a fight. It’s to the world of the young for me.

I am going to, like, buy some deece CDs, and like, make my own myspace, and chill with my peeps. TTYL.

Hard Drive Blues

Just before Thanksgiving I started converting my music library to MP3s, with the eventual goal being the purchase of an iPod. There were several issues with this plan. First off, I have a lot of CDs. Second, the 60GB iPod is really, REALLY expensive, in my opinion. And third, this whole thing requires me to purchase an Apple product, which is simply against my principles. But I forged ahead, ripping CDs night and day through the holidays. This ritual continued right up to Sunday night.

I'm about 80% finished with the whole task. And then I saw it. While ripping an excellent Sloan CD, my screen froze, and my 6 month old hard drive started making a repetitive sound. There was no response to keys, so I did what I had to do -- I slammed the power switch. When I rebooted, for a second I thought things were fine. The drive showed up in the BIOS, but then I got it -- "No valid boot.ini." This was followed by a black screen and that same repetitive noise. I frantically scrambled to find my hard drive diagnostic disc from Seagate. I ran the tests -- hardware failure. I try all the tricks I know, but nothing even will recognize the drive. It won't boot, I can't access it from a boot disc, nothing. Luckily the drive had a 5 year warranty, so a replacement is on the way. In the mean time, I bought a really big new replacement drive, and I'll use the other drive as a backup. I had all my email and our documents backed up from about 3 months ago, so luckily the losses weren't huge. I should probably have seen this coming. My friend Eric had a similar experience a few months ago. I helped him through his crisis without considering that maybe it was a sign. :)

Oh, and about all those MP3s I was making? I have a 14 DVD backup made one week prior to the crash. Had I not had the backup, I might have been inclined to stop listening to music and using computers in any way, shape, or form. At least for a while.

Moral -- Make backups. Always. New drives fail. Seagate warranty = good.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dossier to Denver

A quick update on the adoption -- our dossier arrived safely at our agency in Denver yesterday. They get the task of translating and checking the massive pile of paperwork we shipped them. If all goes well, we're hoping that the paperwork will land in China sometime in March.

I must say that the trip to the post office to drop all of this in the mail was a bit of an OCD/Rain Man moment for me. I'm relatively sure I checked everything about 50 times. There was something very unsettling for me about handing the Express Mail envelope which I had careful constructed and gathered paperwork for since October to a postal employee who immediately turned around and did a jump shot with it into a bin of other, much less important pieces of mail. But it made it to Denver, none the less...


Friday, February 03, 2006

Linguistics 'r Us

Over the past couple of days, my lovely wife and I have been having a debate over the pronunciation of the word "missile." The other night during a reality TV show of one sort or another, the occupation of one of the participants was shown as "Missile Engineer." As Erin read it to me off the screen, she pronounced "missile" something like "miss-isle," with a long "i". I quickly asked, "What was that?" thinking that perhaps she had just read it phonetically and not really realized what she was saying. She repeated it -- "miss-isle." I started laughing. I informed her that she sounded like Yosemite Sam -- "Varmint, I'm a-gonna blow you to smithereens with a MISS-ISLE!"

Now in case you're sitting there going, "What wrong with that?" it probably is an indication that you ain't from around here, which probably isn't a bad thing. Here in central Indiana, I believe that the usual way of pronouncing "missile" is something akin to "miss-ul." No long "i." I should probably be careful in ever poking fun at the way someone pronounces a certain word, given that many of us Hoosiers have the linguistic abilities of Chewbacca.

When Erin looked the word up online, it was shown with both pronunciations, with HER version being listed as "primarily British." I promptly asked her if she was knackered and needed to go to the loo or have a plate of bangers and mash -- perhaps drive a lorry to the petrol station. She wasn't amused. Frankly I think she still clings to the belief that her California heritage makes her dialectically superior to me, somehow.